Karen Bennett was 8 years old when 35,000 people, shouting "The whole world is watching," marched on the pentagon in 1967 in one of the Vietnam era's most memorable outpourings of protest.
Yesterday Bennett, a part-time Washington bakery worker and occasional student, was at the Pentagon herself, chanting the same slogan as she and about 1,300 women circled the building in a '60s-style demonstration against nuclear power, defense spending, sexism and hunger.
"We want to send a message to the new administration coming in," said Bennett as she hoisted a picket sign fashioned out of an orange-handled broom. "What was so scary to me about Reagan's election is that so many people listening to him apparently thought what he was saying about the military was all right. We're here to say that it's not."
Several demonstrators squatted on the Pentagon steps, linking arms and calling to uniformed and civilian Defense employes to turn back from the building's entrances.
"You're a woman, don't go in there, you're making death," one demonstrator shouted to an embarrassed-looking, miniskirted woman as she climbed the steps, dodging bodies.
Signs borne by the group, some of whom covered their heads with shrouds, read "We'll never 'rely' on Reagan," "No Nukes," "Who killed Karen Silkwood?" and "Feed the People -- Not the Pentagon."
"I guess they're having fun," said one disgusted-looking Navy officials. He stood in a Pentagon parking lot waiting for a shuttle bus and watching the protesters chant "Take the Toys Away From the Boys" and perform guerrilla theater with giant papier mache puppets.
"I bet these chicks don't even know why they're here. I think somebody's led them down the garden path," he muttered.
Federal Protective Service officials said later 114 protesters were arrested in the peaceful demonstration and charged with blocking Pentagon entrances.
The women, most of whom refused to post bond, were arraigned before federal magistrates in Alexandria on the misdemeanor charge and were to spend last night in jail. The offense carries a maximum penalty of 30 days in jail and a $50 fine.
The all-female protest by the Women's Pentagon Action Coalition -- a New York- and New England-based organization -- began with an early-morning march past the white gravestones of Arlington National Cemetery.
Organizers said the event -- the result of a women's conference held last September in New York City -- was scheduled to occur regardless of who won the presidential election. "We weren't happy with what Jimmy Carter was doing about the MX missile and rearmament," said Ynestra King, one of the leaders of the protest.
"I think [President-elect Ronald] Reagan's election made a lot more people join our action because women wer particularly wary about his saber-rattling during the campaign," added King, a professor at Goddard College in Vermont. "You hear a lot about the Moral Majority but there's an active resistance movement in this country. We're going to see a lot more demonstrations like this in the next four years."
King said she was pleased with the larger-than-expected turnout of women, most of them white and many of them under 25, outfitted in the "uniform" of 1960s student protestors: hiking boots, blue jeans, ponchos and backpacks.
Male friends and husbands spent the day answering the phones at the Washington Women's Peace Center and taking care of the children, King said.
"I'm really glad to see so many young women here," said Estelle Charles, a 52-year-old Manhattan psychotherapist. She said the march was "about my 18 thousandth protest -- I've been doing this since 1962 when about 30 of us including [pediatrician Dr. Benjamin] Spock protested the Vietnam War. I was worred because kids had been so quiet during the 1970s and it's not as though there was nothing to protest."
Part of the demonstration was a reading of a lengthy "unity statement" condemning, among other things, the arms race, racism, hunger, nuclear power, violence against women, the draft, ecological destruction, oppression of homosexuals and lack of jobs for minority youth."
As one tight-lipped, middle-aged Army colonel strode resolutely up the steps he was greeted by shrieks of "Turn back -- the survival of the world is at stake." When he pushed a demonstrator's arm aside with his leg, one young woman looked up at him, her face contorted with disdain, and shouted, "You tell your mother you were pushing women around and see what she says."